Commencement Spring 21

Graduates seated socially distanced at the first-ever commencement ceremony at Neyland Stadium on May 8, 2021.

Though they will not be on campus together, students from the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2025 have a unique shared experience: they both spent their senior years adapting to and overcoming the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The senior class that graduated in May included many notable campus leaders and volunteers, each of whom left UT older and wiser and more prepared for their lives because they weathered the storm of a global crisis. Because they will not be around to tell the incoming freshmen what they learned, a few seniors shared their advice for the newest Vols here.

Shelby Guthrie

“After four years of college, I feel like the biggest thing I have learned is that everything might not go the way that you want, but everything will work out -- usually for the best. Make the most of where you are by being present and paying attention to the people that are in front of you. Being kind to someone can make a bigger impact than you think. And know that it is always okay to ask for help!” 

Joelle Jarjoura

“Welcome to Rocky Top! This is a place I’ve grown to love immensely over the past four years. It’s your new home now, so it’s in your best interest to explore it to the fullest. Try new coffee shops, study spots, student orgs and sports games ... even if you’re not sure you’ll like them. They will surprise you and you’ll learn something about yourself in the process. Enjoy your new home -- I know I’m gonna miss it!” 

Mustafa Salameh

“Welcome to Rocky Top! My main piece of advice for students coming in is to just be yourself and don’t change for others. Enjoy your time at the University of Tennessee because as cliche as this sounds, college flies by in the blink of an eye. Make sure when you look back that you don’t have any regrets. Go Vols!” 

Caleb Texeira

“Make sure you make your bed every morning. If you have a rough day, nothing beats getting into a freshly made bed, and it means you got something accomplished that day.” 

Nikki Hernandez

“Take a deep breath and take care of your mental health. Know there are people and resources on campus here for you every step of the way. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health! Grades are important, but they don't define you. It's okay to ask for help and take advantage of the academic resources UT offers.” 

Simeon Glover

“To the Class of 2025, they weren’t lying when they said that college would be the best years of your life! You learn new things, meet new friends and make memories that’ll last a lifetime! My best advice is to soak up every moment; don’t spend your college years focused on the future and let it all pass you by! College is what you make of it! Focus on your studies, but also never pass up on an opportunity to make memories. Say yes to the late night Cookout runs, the trips to Max Patch or Dollywood, eating out with friends at SoKno Taco Cantina or South Coast Pizza Co. College really is the best years of your life, so be open to trying everything that comes with it.” 

Maria Urias

“The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all the time who eventually catch on to things.” (excerpt from Immaculate Heart College Art Department Rules by Sister Corita Kent)

Deja Hughes

“College is different from anything you’ve experienced in life up until this point. Have fun, but don’t forget why you’re here. Study, but don’t stress yourself out. Make lasting memories!”

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